At least 12 civilians, 1 security personnel killed in Nagaland, inquiry ordered

Nagaland continues to be tense on Sunday over the killing of at least a dozen civilians late Saturday in firing by security forces in Tiru-Oting area under Mon district on suspicion of them being militants, people aware of the development said, Hindustan Times reported.

The state government on Sunday constituted a high level special investigation team (SIT) probe into the killings, believed to be a case of mistaken identity, while the army has constituted a court of inquiry (COI) to ascertain the cause of the botched up operation.

A defence release regretted the killing of civilians, clarifying that it was meant to be a counter-insurgency operation based on credible intelligence of militants’ presence in Tiru area .

“The incident and its aftermath is deeply regretted. The cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law,” a statement issued by the headquarters of the Army’s 3 Corps said.

HT’s efforts to reach police and security forces to get the details of the incident and the exact casualty figure went unrewarded.

The incident took place between Oting and Tiru villages when some daily wage labourers were returning home in a pick-up van from a coal mine on Saturday evening. The vehicle was allegedly fired upon by army personnel, who were out to conduct an operation in the area against the militants of Yung Aung faction of proscribed outfit NSCN (K). A person aware of the developments said, at least six labourers were killed in this first firing incident.

Mon shares a porous international border with Myanmar, where the Yung Aung faction of NSCN (K) is based.

Soon after the first incident, irate villagers reached the spot and reportedly set ablaze two security vehicles, sparking off another round of firing by security forces to “control the situation” in which at least seven villagers and one security personal died, the person quoted above added. Locals claimed that nine villagers were also injured in the second incident of firing. The injured and the dead were shifted to Mon district headquarters.

“The security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident [villagers’ retaliatory action] including one soldier who succumbed to his injuries,” the headquarters of 3 Corps confirmed.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio announced a high level special investigation team (SIT) probe into the incident on Sunday morning. “The unfortunate incident leading to killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land. Appeal for peace from all sections.”

Union home minister Amit Shah also tweeted, “Anguished over an unfortunate incident in Nagaland’s Oting, Mon. I express my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. A high-level SIT constituted by the state govt will thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families.”

Meanwhile, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the apex body of six Naga tribes of five districts including Mon, has condemned the “barbaric act”. The ENPO is stated to have requested all its six (Konyak, Khiamniungan, Phom, Sangtam, Yimkhiung and Chang) tribes to abstain from participating in the ongoing Hornbill Festival with immediate effect till the funeral rites of the deceased are completed, and directed them to hoist black flags at their morungs (traditional huts) at the main festival site- The Naga Heritage Village Kisama.

The Konyak Union Kohima has already announced to abstain from any further participation at the ongoing festival citing “atrocities” by the security forces at Oting village.

 

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